David Drinkell Posted March 23, 2013 Share Posted March 23, 2013 It was announced this week that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded 416,000 pounds for the restoration of the Norman & Beard organ in the Moot Hall, Colchester, my home town. http://www.npor.org....ec_index=N08698 Colchester Town Hall is a magnificent building erected around the turn of the twentieth century to the design of John Belcher. It is arguably the finest and most elaborate provincial town hall in the country and replaced an inadequate Victorian building which in its turn had replaced the old Moot Hall dating back to early medieval times. Colchester itself is the oldest recorded town in England and was a substantial settlement before the Romans established an important city there. The Moot Hall organ was installed in time for the opening and has been little altered since then, except that the Choir Organ was Positivised in the 1970s. It retains its original pneumatic action (NPOR refers to an electrification, but this is a mistake - and my fault - based on what I thought happened at the time! A later note by Peter de Vile supplies a correction) and has a fine case by the Town Hall architect in keeping with the baroque splendour of the building. In recent years the instrument had got into a poor state and has not been considered playable for some time. I tried it about three years ago and was lucky - only one note was 'off' and most of it functioned for me. I had not been in the Moot Hall for nearly forty years, and I was completely blown away by what an amazing organ it is. It has only 29 speaking stops but sounds at least twice that size. In a general way, this is due to everything being on a grand scale, with Great and Swell choruses up to four rank quint mixtures, but a clever feature is that these manuals each have a sub coupler which acts only on the reeds, giving a much bigger effect than would be expected. The consultant, Dr. William McVicker, rightly comments that it is an unknown treasure. It is possible that T.C. Lewis had something to do with the job, as he worked for Norman & Beard for a brief period around the time it was built. This is exciting news and I eagerly await hearing the restored organ . Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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